100 Pieces and 1000 Pieces
1993, Performance, 50 min, bank notes, bricks, ladder
In Lin Yilin' s 100 pieces and 1000 pieces the meaning resides in the action rather than in the final result of his labour. The artist once again uses gray bricks , a material widely present in old Guangzhou' s building (now being replaced by concrete ), but for the first time these don't recall any architectural impression. A metal ladder, 100 bricks and 100 banknotes of 10 Yuan each, plus a boxing-glove are the chosen materials. Wearing the glove, Lin Yilin climbs the ladder and places on its top one brick, then another, Inserting a banknote between them. Then he keeps on building a sort of precarious construction of bricks and money, completing first all the steps of the ladder, then posing them on the floor nearby. When all the bricks and money have been used up, he starts the "de-constructive" part of the action. He grabs a banknote and tears it causing the superposed brick to fall on the floor .Then he harshly beats the same brick on top of the money, until the brick has broken into pieces, and uses these pieces to build another, uneven, wall. Lin Yilin then throws the money to the astonished viewers, who react differently, either avoiding accurately any contact with the cash, or grabbing it enthusiastically. Some have been noticed setting fire to the money, others tried to collect as much as they could. The action ends with all the money been distributed, all the bricks smashed on top of the banknotes and then put together to form another wall. The top of the ladder is the last step, as it has been the first. The artists is sweating, he rises his glove like a boxer after the match. Lin Yilin's art seems to have come to a new phase. From his interest for a status between architecture and sculpture, to the focusing on materials themselves,then to a forceful expression of energy. This might be either the inner energy of a material, depending on its structure, on its latent capacity or social meaning, or the energy spread both by the artist's action and by the viewers' reaction. Moreover, the connexion of materials is determined by different forces owned by the objects themselves and produces energy. So by tearing a piece of money-paper one can cause the fall of a brick; the meaning of this act will go further though, being filled With social contents, beside considerations strictly related to the very nature of the material. The production of energy, being dependent on the value of different materials , their relationship and the interaction with artist and public, is here expressed all at once, during a 50 minutes happening. This new intensity is somehow just a posed to the stillness (yet powerful) of Lin Yilin's earlier works. The artist feels he has somehow found a simpler way to express himself; now the main point is not whether he should use the "wall" pattern again (subject of many works in the past) : it is mainly the creation and propagation of forces that interest him. Thanks to the very process of making an artwork, it becomes possible to determine a change in the relationship between different materials, and between the artwork and the audience. The money distributed to the people is somehow special, recognizable: it has the artist's mark on it. It carries, together with the traces of dusty bricks, some meanings which will eventually involve the viewer's thoughts, will lead him to wonder about the happening he has been witnessing, will start a mental activity as a result of the employment of different forces and therefore will become itself a source of energy. Lin Yilin obtains therefore the propagation of his work in a concrete and/or metaphorical way, and urges the participation of the unaware audience.